European project solves variability issues of designing in deep submicron IC technology

Leuven, Belgium - September 21, 2010 - REALITY, a European funded initiative on Design for Variability, has just finished its project mission. In about its 2.5 years lifespan REALITY has focused on developing industrially relevant innovative design techniques, methods, and flows for the design and analysis of energy-efficient self-adaptive System-on-Chips (SoCs). The tackled challenges include benchmarking the impact of the latest 32nm CMOS process manufacturing variability at all abstraction levels, from device to System-on-a-Chip level, while developing approaches to compensate their negative impact in the design of final products. REALITY has resulted in a number of first time conclusions.

Full scale 3D simulation of statistical variability associated with metal gate granularity and the corresponding metal work function variations have been carried out to clarify the magnitude of statistical variability in 32nm CMOS transistors with high-k/metal gate stack. For these devices the metal granularities can double the variability if the metal grain size becomes comparable to the transistor dimensions.

Also, a full statistical characterization of an ARM926 core has been achieved. A correlation between the timing, leakage and dynamic power has been demonstrated on local (within die) and non-local (above die) variations. The traditional corner analysis could be benchmarked with innovative statistical analysis techniques. Using the ARM core as driver, REALITY has confirmed that the SRAM components are responsible for more than the half of the variations on critical path timing. Hence, Statistical Timing Analysis (SSTA) flows that assume predictable timing response from these components may lead to over-optimistic conclusions. For that purpose REALITY has deployed a holistic statistical characterization flow including SRAM analysis.
With a novel flow integrating manufacturing variations and ageing effects for mixed-signal circuits, the REALITY project also developed a CAD environment that allows designers to make more accurate estimations and thus make circuits more energy and cost efficient.

Finally, REALITY evaluated the impact of process variation in SW-level metrics showing process variability is not only a concern for HW but for SW as well. Variability affecting multi-core multimedia platforms makes it hard to guarantee a certain QoS from the running application's functionality. For that purpose, different circuit design techniques for system adaptation have been investigated, among them Adaptive Body Biasing (ABB). REALITY has shown that ABB can speed up a system-on-chip when due to technology parameter variations the manufactured product became too slow.


For further information on the REALITY project, contact:

Miguel Miranda
Project Coordinator
Kapeldreef 75, 3001 Leuven, Belgium

The REALITY consortium involves 6 European institutions:

ARM Holdings is the world's leading semiconductor intellectual property (IP) supplier and as such is at the heart of the development of digital electronic products. Headquartered in Cambridge, UK, and employing over 1700 people and generating revenues of $489.5M in 2009. ARM has offices around the world, including design centers in France, India, Sweden, and the US. (www.arm.com)
Contact Person: Yves Laplanche, yves.laplanche@arm.com

Imec performs world-leading research in nanoelectronics. Imec leverages its scientific knowledge with the innovative power of its global partnerships in ICT, healthcare and energy. Imec delivers industry-relevant technology solutions. In a unique high-tech environment, its international top talent is committed to providing the building blocks for a better life in a sustainable society. Imec is headquartered in Leuven, Belgium, and has offices in Belgium, the Netherlands, Taiwan, US, China and Japan. Its staff of more than 1,650 people includes over 550 industrial residents and guest researchers. In 2009, imec's revenue (P&L) was 275 million euro. (www.imec.be). Contact imec: Katrien Marent, Director of External Communications, T: +32 16 28 18 80, Mobile: +32 474 30 28 66, katrien.marent@imec.be
Contact Person: Miguel Miranda, miguel.miranda@imec.be

STMicroelectronics is a global leader serving customers across the spectrum of electronics applications with innovative semiconductor solutions. ST aims to be the undisputed leader in multimedia convergence and power applications leveraging its vast array of technologies, design expertise and combination of intellectual property portfolio, strategic partnerships and manufacturing strength. In 2009, the Company's net revenues were $8.51 billion. Further information on ST can be found at www.st.com
Contact Person: Giuseppe Desoli, giuseppe.desoli@st.com

University of Bologna
The University of Bologna, founded in 1088, is the oldest academic institution of the Western world. With its 95,000 students, 3,300 lecturers and researchers, over 1,000 research and scholarship winners and 1,800 PhD students, 23 faculties and 70 departments, it is one of the most important higher education institutions in Italy and the whole of Europe. The University's academic provision is extremely broad. Its 23 Faculties offer 120 first-level degree courses (laurea), 135 second-level degree courses (laurea magistrale), 108 doctoral degree courses and 84 vocational master courses for post-graduate students, also involving activities carried out in contact with the professional world. The University takes an active part in several EU calls for proposals in the field of higher education, teaching and research. It is one of most active Italian universities in research and technology transfer, and it is the top Italian University for 7th FP funding and project participation.
Contact Person: Prof. Luca Benini, luca.benini@unibo.it

Glasgow University
Glasgow University is founded in 1451, the University of Glasgow is the fourth-oldest university in the English-speaking world. In 1840 the University became the first in the UK to appoint a Professor of Engineering, and in 1957, the first in Scotland to have an electronic computer.
Contact Person: Prof. Asen Asenov, asenov@elec.gla.ac.uk

K.U.Leuven, founded in 1425, is Belgium's largest university. As a leading European research university, it offers a wide variety of academic programmes in Dutch and English, nurtured by high quality interdisciplinary research, both at the university and at its internationally acclaimed university hospitals. More than 6,000 researchers from over 120 countries participate in curiosity-driven and strategic frontier research, as well as targeted and demand-driven research. The university's interaction and co-operation with external partners is very intense. As a comprehensive university, K.U.Leuven offers 3-year Bachelor's and 1 or 2-year Master's programmes in almost all disciplines. The Leuven doctoral schools organise the international PhD tracks of close to 3,500 doctoral students. Leuven is a safe, pleasant and multicultural town, with a vibrant student community, only a short train ride away from Brussels, Paris and London.
Contact Person: Prof. Georges Gielen, georges.gielen@esat.kuleuven.be

Subscribe to our newsletter

Stay tuned and get our news in your inbox: subscribe here.

Keep me informed
Follow us